'Irrelevant that Zuma is Zulu'

2009-03-23 00:00

Addressing thousands of supporters in Nongoma at the weekend, IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi tackled head-on the issue of what he called ANC president Jacob Zuma's "Zuluness." Political commentators have long spoken of Zuma's appeal in KwaZulu-Natal and that he may attract traditional IFP supporters.

Buthelezi pleaded with those present not to return to the old politics of ethnicity.

"It is irrelevant if Mr Zuma is a Zulu. In terms of the competition of ideas and policies, ethnicity is irrelevant. It is the policies and ideals we champion which matters. In no discernable way, as far as I can tell, Mr Zuma has spelled out how he will govern differently from his predecessors as president of the ANC. It will be more of the same," he said

The IFP leader said he has also been concerned at reports that some IFP supporters have encouraged one another to vote IFP at the provincial level and vote for Zuma at the national level."I cannot overemphasise that splitting one's ballot paper like this is a disaster. Be in no doubt that a vote for Mr Zuma is a vote for the ANC government. If you want an IFP government put your cross next to the IFP on your ballot paper. We need the largest team in the National Assembly possible as well as here in the provincial legislature in KwaZulu-Natal," he added.

Buthelezi continued on his theme of showing up the failures of the ANC government.

He singled out last week's collapse of public transport in Durban. "It is interesting that the ANC cannot find buses for school children in Durban, but it can always bus its own supporters to Nongoma."

He said he believes the registration of a record number of voters for this election is an indication that South Africans are hungry for change. "The tide is turning against the ANC," Buthelezi said.

He reiterated his call for political tolerance. "I appeal to you, as well as supporters of the ANC, not to engage in acts of violence. Let us never forget, we have no enemies, only political opponents. Tolerance is the crown of a democratic society," he said.

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